Posts Tagged With: Environment

Ignite the Consumer Revolution for Regenerative Agriculture

As one of 17 accredited Savory Global Network Hubs around the world, our goal is to help build awareness for the importance of holistic land and animal management practices that create environmental, economic and social benefits. We are inspired by the growing movement comprised of farmers and ranchers who are regenerating their soils, watersheds, wildlife habitats and human communities by practicing Holistic Management.

However, the story doesn’t end there. Consumers need better access to products grown regeneratively. Farmers and ranchers need more opportunities to sell their products in a way that recognizes their dedication to regenerating the environments we all depend upon. And bold brands that are striving to make real change in the marketplace need access to the raw materials that will enable them to deliver environmentally beneficial products everyone can feel proud of.

We hope to help ignite a consumer revolution that demands good stewardship of our lands and proper management of livestock worldwide. Please join us for the 2017 Eat It, Wear It, Regenerate It conference taking place in late October and early November, and be part of a movement that is supporting regenerative agriculture globally. We have incredibly innovative opportunities for you engage with this Consumer Revolution. Whether you can make it to the intimate VIP event in Boulder, to your local Hub, or participate digitally, there are options for everyone to join the conversation.

For our friends here in the Southeast, we’d love for you to join us for our local Hub event in Atlanta on November 4th. Will Harris will host the Southeastern premiere of the Savory Institute’s world broadcast and has put together a team of top chefs to put the “dinner” in our dinner and a movie evening. Each chef will highlight a protein from White Oak Pastures for guests to enjoy while mingling, learning more about our farm’s regenerative farming methods, and viewing the four short films. The event takes place from 6 – 8 p.m. at The Shed at Ponce City Market. Tickets, which include food and two drinks, are $35 and may be purchased online.

Wise food choices will have a great impact in how many acres of land go from unsustainable production practices to those that are regenerative. With your insight and dialogue you can help us craft a better future for all.

Photos by Laura Mortelliti.

Categories: Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Meet Mary, Queen of Brussels (Sprouts)


Photo by Laura Mortelliti

As we kick off the Fall season of our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, we are excited to introduce you to one of our organic garden managers, Mary Bruce! We love the way Mary involves herself in so many different functions at White Oak Pastures: she’s also a leather craftswoman, a biodiesel chemist, and she oversees our pastured rabbit and honeybee programs. She is smart, engaged, and always has great ideas for making improvements on the farm. Meet Mary, and catch up on what she’s up to this Fall!

You began your career here as an intern. What motivated you to work your way up to a manager?
When I began working here I had no idea how many moving parts were in this farm ecosystem. My internship was really dynamic, and there were opportunities at every turn. I was lucky enough to be able to work with so many diverse departments. I soon realized that managers were entrusted with Mr. Will’s blessing to go out and conquer. The ability to orchestrate new projects, implement systems, and feel proud of the work that I was doing made me want to invest in the farm.

We have 10 different species on the farm. Which is your favorite?
The guinea fowl. They are wild, uncontained and sneak into the garden all the time! Those birds are just fun to watch, they look as though they are launching an attack when they travel in herds and let out battle cries as they advance through the open pasture. I have been startled by those feisty birds more than once. In addition to their entertainment value, they are the most succulent and flavorful poultry that I have ever eaten. The complexity of their taste is unmatched in stocks, soups, sauces, grilling, and roasting. If you haven’t yet taken the leap, make sure you invite guinea to your next dinner party!

What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Being able to fully engage in a project. There are so many opportunities to team up with other departments in order to make the system more dynamic. We have been using the rabbits to “mow down” garden crops that we are finished harvesting and fertilize the land that they are grazing. We have also introduced a set of piglets to the garden that act as four legged tractors. They till, eat roots and debris, and break up the compaction. Using animals as tools for change has really altered the way I view farming.

What is your favorite meal to cook at home?
Tacos, burritos, and carnitas with marinated steak, pulled/ground pork, and even Mediterranean style tacos stuffed with our lamb. My favorite farm fresh toppings include: vinegar cabbage slaw, onions, microgreens, radishes, pickled carrots, homemade chipotle garlic aioli (from our pastured eggs). We eat like kings on the farm. We have the freshest produce, and most scrumptious proteins. You cannot go wrong when you have all of this great food at your fingertips.

What has been your proudest moment since working here?
I have been blessed to work on a lot of diverse projects during my time here and each one had its pinnacle.  Whenever something that I have directly had my hands on has been complimented or appreciated it really makes me proud of the work that I do. Two standout moments would be our first retail account for leather goods, and the first successful batch of biodiesel. Most recently, I have been delighted with the experimental hay pile garden. That patch of pasture is teeming with life above and below the surface, with so many plant species, beneficial insects, and even beautiful displays of fungal fruiting bodies. I am really proud of the habitat that is forming, and the things that it is teaching me.

What are you most looking forward to for the Fall season?
I am most looking forward to our annual CSA dinner (stay tuned for details!). This will be our third season hosting a dinner for our members. Last year was uniquely special; the full menu was crafted and prepared by the very same staff that plants, harvests and packs our CSA shares. Our members had the chance to spend time on the farm, see the full the process, and connect with their growers and farmers. This dinner gets to the heart of the CSA philosophy, connecting eaters with their farmers.

There’s still time to sign up for our Fall CSA at a prorated rate! Click here for details.

Categories: CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Staff Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

The secrets of the ancient Kolomoki Mounds

The Kolomoki Mounds site is the largest and oldest tribal mound complex east of the Mississippi. Located just west of White Oak Pastures outside Bluffton, Georgia, these eight mounds were hand-built by some of the earliest inhabitants of the area, the Swift Creek and Weeden Island cultures. Building these mounds was a monumental task, toting dirt one basketful at a time. The largest mound, the size of a football field at the base and 56 ft high, required more than two million basket loads of soil.

These early hunter-gatherers had to have been very prosperous to be able to engage in an extravagant extraneous activity like mound-building, and the reason this was possible is the high productivity of the land.


There’s something special in this little strip of land right through here that’s about 15 miles long and just a few hundred yards wide. We call it the Bluffton Ridge, and it’s the area where the Appalachian Mountains have gone underground and project like a finger under the coastal plains weather pattern.

Generally, the land in the coastal plains is sandy and of poor quality. But in this ridge we’ve got uneroded, incredibly rich mountain soil. We’re also in a highly productive weather pattern, with optimal rainfall and temperatures. It’s the perfect storm of weather and geology, where plants and animals grow and produce really well.


These tiny Appalachian rocks are treasure chests of minerals.

It’s interesting to note that the people of ancient Kolomoki built the mounds right next to this strip of land, but not on it. They knew this soil was special.

From 350-600 A.D., Kolomoki was the largest settlement north of Mexico. These early Native Americans were the first of many prosperous inhabitants who thrived on the rich soil of the Bluffton Ridge.

Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek Nation in 1814, and founded Bluffton in 1815. The Creeks inhabited Southeast Alabama, Southwest Georgia, and North Florida, but Jackson and the early Europeans chopped their way through the jungle with purpose, founding Bluffton before any other city in the region.

Before the industrialization of agriculture drove people away in the mid 1900s, Bluffton was a prosperous city, too. Will Harris’ grandmother attended Bluffton’s Pine Plains Boarding School for Girls, where she learned to paint oil on canvas and studied Emily Post etiquette during the era when girls weren’t commonly taught to even read or write. Bluffton had one of the first concrete swimming pools in the state back in 1920, called The Bluff. And in 1924, a successful initiative called the “Lord’s Acre” was featured in Time magazine, in which farmers in the Baptist Church congregation each donated one acre of production as a tithing. In the era of “40 acres and a mule,” most farms couldn’t afford to donate an acre of production, but because of that highly productive mountain ridge soil, it was possible in Bluffton.

WOP cattle

Kolomoki translates to “Land of the White Oaks,” and it is now our turn to care for this little strip of land. At White Oak Pastures, we’ve tapped into the richness of this soil to build one of the 17 accredited Savory Hubs around the world, and we proactively support nature’s food chain using only sun, soil, and rain to grow organic sweet grasses for our animals to eat. Regenerative agriculture is a core value of White Oak Pastures, for the sake of our animals, our environment, our community, and for those who will inhabit this land after we’re gone.

Categories: Regenerative Land Management, Rural Community | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Good news: We bought 250 acres of worthless land


It takes more than time to restore Georgia’s soil to the way it was before industrial farming practices added chemical fertilizers and pesticides and removed the biodiversity and nutrients. It takes us buying the land in the first place. Well, check that box, to the tune of 250 acres.

Our little experiment in the de-industrialization of agriculture is becoming less little all the time.

So what are we going to do with that 250 acres of degraded soil? Exactly what we’ve done with our other 1,500 acres: repair and fertilize the soil using century-old methods and the Serengeti Grazing Model of an unconfined, natural rotation of livestock. We recently moved a small number of our cattle onto the land to eat hay. They will urinate and defecate to feed the soil, and their hooves will break apart and aerate the land, preparing it for the planting of warm-season perennial grasses.

It will take years of good animal-land management to rebuild this eroded soil, but it’s an investment we know is important to continuing our commitment to regenerative animal agriculture.

Not surprisingly, most of the arable land in south Georgia is under someone else’s control. Some of it is conventional farming, some of it is in hunting reserves or timber farming. But we buy when we can buy. We lease when we can lease. We’re on a mission and we just got 250 acres closer to our goal.

Categories: Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

Our chickens of the woods

Chickens were born to scratch and peck, which is exactly what they do at White Oak Pastures. Our chickens are completely unrestricted, and they could walk to Atlanta if they wanted to. This lifestyle is ideal for them, but it makes our job a heck of a lot harder. We think it is worth it, and our customers do, too.

We utilize the Serengeti Rotational Grazing Model, grazing large ruminants, followed by small ruminants, followed by birds. Our poultry like to scratch through cow manure, which is one of the many benefits of having chickens in the pastures. They eat the bugs and redistribute the nutrients, instead of leaving them in piles. Our hens have the option to lay eggs in our mobile pastured poultry houses, or they can lay them anywhere else on the farm they choose.

We have learned that most of our biological diversity occurs in the “edge.” These days, many of our hens are gravitating toward the bushier, shadier parts of our pastures near the forest edges. Our Laying Hen Manager, Sam Humphrey, explains that domestic chicken breeds are descendants of the red junglefowl, whose natural habitat was the edges of forests where two biological systems are together teeming with life. Here, chickens have cover from predators, and there is a wide variety of leaf litter, seeds, and bugs for them to eat. It’s very natural for our hens to want to be there foraging, nesting, roosting in the limbs, and dust bathing in the dirt. None of these behaviors are possible on a factory farm, which produce and market those ever-so-popular eggs labeled “cage-free.” Our eggs have deep yellow and orange yolks, as opposed to the light yellowish-grey yolks of hens kept in confinement with poor diets. Ours also have a rich flavor and a great nutrient profile as a result of our hens’ own nutritious diet. 

Right now with the warm weather and lots of sunlight, our hens are laying about 5,500 eggs each day. Our egg crew is busy collecting eggs two to three times a day, seven days a week. For them, it’s like an Easter egg hunt every day at White Oak Pastures. Once the eggs are collected, they are taken to our candling, washing, and sorting room where they are prepared to be shipped to grocery stores, restaurants, and other distributors. Our eggs are also available for purchase in our online store to be shipped to you directly. We hope you enjoy our delicious, pasture laid eggs!


Categories: Animal Welfare, Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Peanut pride

March is National Peanut Month. Peanuts are the official state crop of Georgia, and for good reason: nearly half of the peanuts produced in the U.S. each year are grown in our state. This time of year, folks across Southwest Georgia are celebrating the peanut industry and its importance in our community. We don’t grow peanuts here at White Oak Pastures, but we have found many uses for the byproducts of the peanut industry that work within our zero-waste philosophy.

Here is what we do with the unused peanut waste we pick up from the local peanut processors:

We add human-grade ground peanut paste to our chicken feed, creating a lipid-rich, protein-rich, low-cost feed for our birds.



In all things we do, we try very hard to emulate nature. Peanuts are one of the most natural foods for hogs. Look at a hog’s nose: it was made to root under the soil for food. Look at a peanut: it grows two inches beneath the soil. A perfect combination! Most of the hogs in the U.S. are fed a GMO soy and grain feed. We are proud to supplement our hog feed with GMO-free peanut paste.



Wildlife goes “nuts” for it, too!

Credit - BackLight Photography
Photo Credit: BackLight Photography


We use peanut shells for bedding in our poultry brooder houses. Chicken and turkey poults, ducklings, goslings, and guinea fowl keets all stay warm and safe in this bedding in our brooders until they are old enough to go out on pasture.



Peanut shells act as the carbon component for composting the ground meat and poultry waste from our abattoirs. This compost is used as a soil amendment to feed the microbial population in our pastures. Using this rich compost, we never have to rely on synthetic fertilizers to keep our grass growing green.


Categories: Regenerative Land Management | Tags: , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Savanna project: 1,200 new pecan trees throughout our pastures

As environmental stewards, planting trees is one of our many responsibilities. Years of watching nature has taught us that the most diversity occurs in the edge or boundary of two of ecological habitats, where we see more wildlife and microbial growth. During the last decade at White Oak Pastures, we have planted about 1,000 trees along our fence lines each year to create this edge.

This February, we planted the first of 1,200 new pecan trees throughout our pastures. This year’s planting will be quite different than tree-planting in years past as we are not focusing on that edge effect, but it will provide a completely different set of benefits than previous years.

Pecan trees are the last to foliate in the spring, so the sun will get to the pastures when it is needed most. In the summer, foliage will protect our livestock and land from the heat and sun, and pecans will fall on the pastures to feed the animals. The trees will be spread out far enough that they do not over-shade the grass.

Right now, the young pecan trees are protected by circular steel fences called Arbor Shields, which deter the livestock and allow natural organic growth.

We’re excited to watch the trees grow throughout the years, and see the animals enjoy the extra shade and food. Eventually, our pastures will resemble the African Savanna.

Categories: Regenerative Land Management | Tags: | Leave a comment

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